Foreign hemp cultivars have thrived in Nevada’s hot, dry climate, and ample ownership and distribution of water rights have provided Nevada farmers with ample irrigation necessary for its production. Hemp needs large amounts of water to grow well and does best in semi-humid conditions. Nevada’s arid climate also serves as a mold deterrent and is helpful in controlling pests and pathogens that might otherwise be present in wetter climates.
Hemp is a photosensitive plant, and in states that experience all four seasons, farmers will plant seeds anywhere from the end of March to mid-to-late May. Seeds are usually planted with a mechanical seeder, in shallow holes just deep enough to be protected from the environment, and in well-drained soil that represents a fair mixture of sand, silt, and clay.
Hemp tends to grow taller and thinner, with stalks growing closer together to naturally keep out weeds, whereas marijuana grows wider and more spread out, so that its flowers may absorb more of the light spectra. To be classified as hemp, a plant variety must have a THC content of less than .3%.
Nevada’s rich history in agriculture has provided a strong foundation for the support of the hemp trade, and its Legislature and Government Agencies have taken a friendly approach to this new economy. For instance, it recently opened up the exchange of CBD from hemp facilities to marijuana facilities, which has proven to be a unique and economically-viable approach.
Nevada was one of the first 15 states to begin growing hemp in 2016, with 216 acres planted. In 2017 that number doubled, and in 2018 Nevada recorded 1,881 total acres planted. As of March 2019, Nevada had 9,145 licensed acres, 1.27M sf of indoor growth, 154 licensed growers, and sale price points between $200 – $400 per pound for hemp flower, and between $40 – $60 per pound for whole plant biomass – consistent with the national average.
As of 2019, 46 states have legalized hemp farming, 34 have licensed cultivation, 16,877 growers have registered, and 511,442 acres have been planted – a 455% increase over 2018 licensed average.1